On “Holy Insecurity”


“This is the kingdom of God, the kingdom of danger and of risk, of eternal beginning and eternal becoming, of opened spirit and of deep realization, the kingdom of holy insecurity.” – Martin Burber

If there is one thing that is true about this Coronavirus, it is in this quote from Martin Buber. When the world is shaken to its core and all seems dark and dismal. When sickness and death surround us. When we hit rock bottom. It is then and only then we begin to realize our powerlessness. It is then we are opened to throw ourselves on the mercy of a higher intelligence, a merciful divinity. It is then we begin to search the mystery of the Divine One. For surely these days are filled with “holy insecurity”.

A little over a year ago I was in Edmonton with my husband. He was so sick I was convinced he could die, and probably would die. It was a time of great stress, great insecurity, and many questions and doubts. Yet, against all odds he made it. He survived. My weak faith became strengthened through these days only to be tested once again as the Coronavirus plagued the world.  Fear ruled for a while. Anxiety reigned supreme. But then, out of the darkness faith was once again reborn.

I live in Canada, but news of the horror presently taking place in the United States and around the world has me very concerned. Yet in these times of great suffering, death, and loss of every kind a quiet, still voice reassures me: we are not alone.

 As I sit with the mystery that is God, I am comforted. The world has seen other great plagues and during those times surely people felt insecure, anxious, afraid. Surely it was an opportunity to turn again, to become, to learn and live and come to greater understanding, insight and wisdom. People ask where is this God? Where is this love and mercy? And I think to myself: it is in the kind ministrations of health staff. It is in the compassion and care of family members and friends. Sometimes it is in the kindnesses extended by strangers. It is in the patience and endurance of people who, perhaps, do not share our convictions, opinions, or faith traditions. It is in the trust of a child and the wisdom in the eyes of the old. And, it is in abundance in nature.

I sit here and I pray: May the Divine One bring us all we need. May we know the comfort of loving hearts and hands. May we know justice, kindness, patience, friendship, and help in all our needs. May we be granted the gifts of trust and perseverance. May we sit with this “holy insecurity” knowing we are held in infinitely tender hands by an intelligence that is far greater than our human understanding.

Amen.

Faith, Belief, and Memories of past adversity


One year ago, today, my husband was sent home from the hospital in the city. He’d had a gall bladder attack and landed in hospital on the 9th of February and after spending almost month there, doctors elected to send him to the city where there was better diagnostic equipment. But, after several weeks and a consultation with the cardiac team, it was decided he was at too big of a risk for surgery and he was sent back home. He’d been air lifted to hospital but we had to find our own way home. Thankfully a friend of ours was able to come pick us up and drive us home. It was a brutal trip. My husband endured it but was in pain the entire journey.

Less than two weeks later it happened again – another gall bladder attack. Once again, he was air lifted to the hospital in Edmonton. This time there was no choice in the matter, that gall bladder had to be removed. I remember sitting with two friends I’d made during his previous stay as I waited through his surgery to learn what the outcome would be. And praying, praying, praying. Needless to say, he survived the surgery. But the lessons I learned about faith in the midst of adversity have stayed with me.

Now, I have written about our experiences before, but as I sit here, I remember the fight to have him return home by plane or at least by ambulance where he could lay flat instead of enduring the long four-hour drive sitting up in a car. He’d just had surgery and was in no condition for that. Every day was stress filled as our local hospital insisted he be released because they didn’t have a bed for him. Back and forth it went with me being adamant that he could not face the long drive in an upright position; that he was still not well enough to come home. In the end he was air lifted back home and readmitted to our local hospital. He would spend a further few weeks there before finally being discharged.

Today we have the shadow of this corona virus hanging over all of us. But my experiences with my husband last year have strengthened my faith and my trust in a loving Creator who answered every prayer last year and during every day since. Yes, I’d had to fight for him, for us. Yes, it was hard. But it is during times of seemingly hopeless situations that hope is renewed, faith is renewed, trust is given. During those days last year, I spent many a sleepless night, often in prayer. Often a “peace beyond all understanding” settled over me. And so I write this, as much to remind myself as it is to share with you the lessons I learned: “God is not dead, nor does he sleep,” are part of the lyrics to the Christmas Carol, I heard the bells on Christmas Day, and these words came to me again and again as I faced the possibility that my husband might die. I also learned to “let go and let God”. I learned the value of prayer that keeps us going and sustains us, even in seemingly dire situations. And so, my friends, take heart. We are not alone. The Creator knows our every need, our every want and desire and sees the big, wide picture, while we see only a small part of it. I don’t know why this is happening. I don’t know why so many are sick or why so many are dying. But I will keep faith in the God who helped us through our situation last year, and who continues to sustain us today.

Stay well. Follow the regulations. Stay home and please, stay safe! As for me, I will continue to pray for you, for me, and for all peoples of our world.

Tests of Faith


“My reason nourishes my faith and my faith my reason.” – Norman Cousins

If you read my blog at all you will know that I do have faith in a higher power, no matter what name we choose to call him or her. Recently I posted a meme on Facebook about prayer and a relation questioned it commenting that God is allowing so many people to die. Fair point, I guess. It does make us question, and for some, doubt whatever faith they may have had prior to the emergence of the great turmoil, fear, upheaval, illness and death caused by this corona virus. For myself, personally, I will cling to the Creator because I do believe in a loving and merciful God. Why? Because time and time again we have received all we needed, even when things seemed absolutely hopeless, even when darkness threatened, even when others shook their heads and said “there’s no way”. A way was always given, doors always opened that we thought were closed and triple locked.

I will not pretend to know the answers. I absolutely have none at all. Here, in these darkest of times, my faith is being tested yet again. All I know is that all is mystery, and sometimes it’s very hard to sit with the unknowns, with all the questions, when we so badly want answers; when we so badly want life to go back to the way it was. But what if this crisis allows us to reexamine our hitherto assumptions about life? That cannot be a bad thing, can it?  If we can but learn whatever lessons that lay enfolded within this present crisis, we may emerge better people living in a better world. That is my hope. That is my prayer.

“Faith is different from proof, the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.” – Blaise Pascal

Twelve months of blessings


There is something so special about Christmas time. Something magical and spiritual and absolutely good. I don’t feel that way every year, some years it was just too painful coming on the heels of a death in the family or some other grievous situation. But this year I am so very thankful for the blessings granted us over the past twelve months. So thankful, and Christmas is bringing me so much peace, so much joy this year.

It’s been a challenging year in so many ways, and, as I think back over it, it was an uphill climb in so many ways: emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. It’s not finished with us yet as we wait for a spot to open up in the dialysis unity here in town so my husband won’t have to be flown to Edmonton once again. I think we’ve had enough of that for one year. Yet, it was a year so filled with blessings as well. So many people people stepped up to help us in more ways than I can list here. God really does work in mysterious ways and I am so grateful for all the people who allowed the Creator to work through them; who reached out to support us in every way imaginable. It is through adversity that we may be tested, but we are also so very blessed, if we are open to receive. I read somewhere that issues come up to either bless us or to help us learn the lesson it brings.

Here it what I learned once again: we are never alone, unless we choose to be. No problem or challenge is too big for the Divine One. People are so intrinsically good and unfailingly kind. If we are open we will receive what we need, and often even more than we pray for. People remark on how they see me as being so strong. Well, I will let you in on a little secret: it’s not my strength they see but the strength of God who sustains me, no matter how big or contentious the issue may be.

So, I am praying that we each receive all we need; that we are open to receive the gifts the Creator is waiting to grant us; that we find true joy in the season; that every moment is peace-filled. I wish you well, my friends. I wish you more blessings than you can count. I wish you enough, always. God bless and Merry Christmas.

Homelessness and Hunger


blown down barn

Is God trying to reach me? I don’t know if there have been divine signs or if it’s my natural proclivity to be drawn to people in need, but I have been noticing more often than usual the stories of hardship, homelessness, poverty, and hunger – and not only the physical, but the spiritual as well. Yesterday I was one of many listening to a presentation from a local organization that is doing its best to face the twin challenges of homelessness and mental illness. Last night I chanced to watch a documentary on television called, “God knows where I am” about a homeless woman who starved to death due to mental illness that prevented her from reaching out for help.

I want to help people. But I have no idea how to do so. So, I write it out. To hold all the pain I perceive in others is just too much sometimes. So, I hope you will forgive me. I do try to share positive messages, I really do. So, I am going to try to flip the switch now.

There are things we can do as individuals such as donating to food banks, being kind to one another, sometimes really simple small acts can and do make a difference. There is a woman who comes sporadically into the library, where I work,  but over the years I have come to know her a little. She is a single mother of a large family. I often chat with her a bit and I am always so glad to see her. I don’t know her well, but I know she has had a lot of challenges in life. In 2016 Fort McMurray was evacuated due to wildfires and it was several months before I saw her again. She was one of many people I often thought about and prayed for. I was delighted when I finally did see her again. She fairly threw herself across the desk to give me a hug when I did. I was so grateful she was okay. And, I was happy, so happy. Of course, I hugged her back. Perhaps the time I spend with her is of little consequence, but I like to think it may make a difference in her hard life.

Life is hard, too hard for many people. I think the smiles we offer are important, time spent, if only a few minutes with people who are lonely and in need of kindness, is important. It costs us nothing, but can make a world of difference to people in need – and we are ALL in need sometimes.

God, if you are trying to reach me, You have. Now, please, grant me wisdom and grant me courage to do all I can to honor and help my sisters and brothers. They are yours. But they are also mine. Be with me as I try; and be with me when I fail. Help me to be gentle with myself and with others – always!

God’s sense of humour


IMG_6283with god resized

When we had to move from the home I loved I was extremely disappointed. It was not so much the house itself, but the location. There were several mature trees on the lot and it was right across the road from a nature trail. And so, I prayed about it. ‘Please, God, help us find a home that suits our needs. Send me a sign when we find the right place.’  The new place is lovely – much roomier than our previous abode. I have to say the location is not nearly as ideal, but I had neglected to add ‘must have mature trees and lots of birds’. At any rate when we came to look at this house we moved into I had to laugh for on the wall were several biblical quotes, including “With God all things are possible”. Needless to say, we took the place.

But I have been missing the birdsong and the variety of winged visitors I had enjoyed at the previous address. Then a couple of weeks ago a pair of American robins built their nest in a flower box situated on the railing of my next-door neighbor’s front steps. It is literally a few feet away from us and I can watch her from the window very easily. It is as though the creator read my mind and granted me the beauty of watching this mama robin. A few days ago, the eggs hatched and now we are treated to scenes of both parents delivering food to their chicklets.

God goes by many names and concepts – whatever you may believe, I hope you see evidence of the creator at work and enjoy the wonderful sense of humor. I am grateful and feeling very blessed.

Thoughts and Prayers


I have been thinking a lot about thoughts and prayers after the backlash following the horrific shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It is not hard to understand the anguish and the anger that follows such a senseless and tragic catastrophe.  My heart goes out to the people in this community and to the American people as a whole. “Thoughts and prayers” have become a terrible cliché after so many mass shootings. It seems trite and useless, I am sure. The phrase that is meant as an expression of sympathy; as an expression of unity and empathy has been viewed as an insult to many when government action is not taken.

I am a child of the 60s and well remember the student protests in regards to the Vietnam War; to racial segregation; to injustices in general. I remember the sit-ins that were met with armed soldiers in some cases. The movie, ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’ springs to mind. We were the generation that wanted real change – and many of us still do. Sadly, violence is too often the response to a peaceful demonstration for change in many places in the world.

Yet, we are God’s hands. However, we have to agree to be just that. We have to ‘put our money where our mouths are’ and take concrete action to give legitimacy to our thoughts and prayers.

I am Canadian, but the coverage of the most recent school shooting has been massive here. It has eclipsed the very real issues around human rights that we face in our own country. When a farmer can kill an indigenous youth and be exonerated something is terribly wrong. My heart aches for the American people, but it also aches for all Canadians and for humanity in general, for all those who are living with injustices of every kind.

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” – Alfred Lord Tennyson. I believe in the power of prayer; in the power of positive thought; in the inherent goodness of humanity. But our prayers must also incorporate the will to do something, to be God’s hands in this world.

Choices, Consequences, and a personal Confession


I am old school. I believe that there are consequences to the choices we make. I was taught to own up to my “mistakes”. If I did something wrong I was expected to apologize and to make amends. I am glad I was taught this from an early age.

Like most children I had an innate curiosity about everything and (from my mother’s viewpoint) a never ending list of questions. I am sure I tried her patience considerably and I will be forever grateful for her enduring love and the lessons she taught me.

I remember when my mother caught me pulling the wings off house flies. I remember the frustration I had felt with the flies that were bothering me. I remember wanting to exact revenge on these creatures that were tormenting me. I remember my mother’s anger with me and her deep disappointment with my cruelty.  She killed the flies to put them out of their misery, and I, in turn, was horrified that she killed them. I hadn’t wanted them dead – I simply wanted them to stop flying around and pestering me.

I was very young; I don’t really know exactly how old I was. But I was old enough to be taught a lesson: A lesson about choices and about consequences. And although I don’t remember the words my mother said I do remember a long lecture.  And I remember the gist of the lesson: all creatures great and small deserve our respect; no creature should be abused in any way; life is precious, even the life of an insect. I learned that I, as small and as young as I was, could inflict pain. And I learned it was definitely not okay to do so. The consequence of my choice to pull the wings off the flies resulted in their deaths, for which I did feel very badly. That was my consequence – to feel the weight of my choice, my decision.

We each have an innate goodness and we also have a shadow side, a darkness that dwells within each, or so I have been told. And it makes sense to me. I lived it! But my point is not to dwell on the darker aspects of human nature; conversely it is to reflect on how we overcome it. There have been many books written on the subject by authors much wiser than I. So I will not attempt to answer this great mystery of good and evil in a mere blog post.

The events of the past year with its emphasis on death, on law, and the criminal justice system has caused me to think more deeply about life, love, and forgiveness. It has also given me much to consider as far as the consequences of our choices go. I think one of the reasons I have been so angry with the man who caused my brother’s death was his decision to plead not guilty, when it seemed abundantly clear to me that he was indeed guilty. I felt he should “man up” and confess to his decision to drink and drive and take his lumps.

I cannot speak for this man. I don’t know why he made the choices he made. But I do understand the very human inclination to self preservation. I am quite certain none of us want to know what the inside of a jail cell looks like. I am also quite certain that none of us want to experience what prison life might be like – from what I’ve seen represented on television and in movies it sure does not seem pleasant. So it makes sense that his man wants to avoid an education on life behind bars. Regretfully, by making this choice he has inflicted more pain on a grieving family.

Perhaps, like the small child I once was, I have wanted revenge; to inflict pain, as I have felt pain; to play God; to decide this man’s fate.

Thankfully that is not my job. Though God knows I have judged him harshly enough in my mind.

I still don’t have any answers. I am not God – I am not all-seeing or all-knowing. I just hope that as I walk this road I find the willingness to forgive – even if I can never forget.

Stony paths and impossible gulches


I have been writing a lot about my brother’s untimely death and about the trial of the man who killed him, whether by “accident” or not. There are court dates almost every day this week. My family will hear more witnesses describe what they saw. They will learn many painful details. We, as a family, are walking a path filled with jagged stones; the pain and anger that results are like an impossible gulch – deep and seemingly escape proof. I know we will rise above it. I know it deep in my soul. I believe we are all children of God – even the driver who caused my brother’s death. I know some day somehow I will find a way to forgive him. I am asking you, dear reader, to please send positive energy and prayers our way, for the path right down is filled with stones and darkness and the gulch is deep.